Monday, July 25, 2005

Monday Morning News Blues

- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released a report stating that American citizens, particularly children, have high concentrations of pesticides and toxic compounds in their bodies. The report attributes the high toxicity levels to our indiscriminate use of pesticides and other hazardous chemicals.

- In a related, but separate report, scientists found that many mothers in Hong Kong have high DDT levels in their breast milk, even though the pesticide was banned in China over twenty years ago.

- An editorial in the Los Angeles Times addresses questions of genetic engineering, highlighting some alterations about to hit the market...and the moral questions attached to genetic "design."

- As I get dressed for work, I turn on NY1, a twenty-four hour local news channel. This morning, "on the street" New Yorkers are asked to weigh in on the increased security checks and random bag searches conducted by the NYPD in public transportation facilities.
"We're going to have to give up some of our freedom if we want to be safe."

"I feel more safe when they're monitoring us."
You feel more safe when Oceania is monitoring you, lady? Sanctioned surveillance always makes me a little uneasy, but excepting the legitimate questions of racial profiling, I'm not that concerned by the city's recent security measures. I do cringe, though, when I hear that people are so eager to trade "freedom" for safety. High school history books provide us with plenty of frightening precedents; states in which security is placed above freedom have a way of trending far to the right.


Devo said...

I believe it was the original Gangsta Pimp Daddy, Ben Franklin himself who said something to the effect of "They that would give up liberty for security deserve neither." I couldn't agree more. Man, those old school dudes were really effing good at coining a nifty phrase!!! Me? I prattle on endlessly. Just look at my damn comments on this here blog!!!

Jewbacca said...

Freedom isn't Free. But freedom fries cost 99 cents at McDonalds.


Minji said...

I saw a shocking news a couple weeks ago that the new computerized surveillance system might be placed in some subway stations in London for anti-terrorism. It catches people, as suspects, who acts differently to the crowd, e.g. one alone walking againt the mass people or one standing still whereas everyone is moving. This kind of totalitarian attempts in so called democratic society may guarantee our security from terrorism? I will be more terrified to confront that there's the only solutions left that would destroy individual and force conformity. Farewell to Benjamin's flaneur, dandyism, and the rebel.

Devo said...

Well, manji, at least we'll be safe from the antics of those weird homeless people who twitch and scream at nothing. They'll be swept off the streets and given full cavity searches because they acted strangely and were wearing several layers of coat on a humid July day. I agree. That's pretty 1984 of the gummint. However, at this moment, there's virtually nowhere you can stand in Manhattan where you are NOT being taped by somebody. Literally every square inch of space is covered by a camera somewhere. We're already there, man. We're just so peacefully sedated by Survivor and Hell's Kitchen that we don't realize how squarely The Man has his thumb bearing down on our prole heads.

Hungry Hyaena said...

Devo #1:
Benjamin Franklin, though something of a dandy himself, was a brilliant man. That so many of our "founding fathers" were flawed men only makes me that much more convinced of their greatness.

Ever the comedian.

I'm surprised you actually read this blog, but I'm happy to learn that you do stop by once in a while. Given your interest in history and philosophy, I imagine you've given much thought to totalitarianism, particularly the "local" variety which lies to your north just past the DMZ. As for the rebel and the dandy, I think the rebel spirit died decades ago but the dandy is alive and well, though clad in new cloth. (I hope you're doing well.)

Devo #2:
Manji is actually Minji.

"Everyday we earn our meager pay
But it takes its toll to play the happy prole.

The buy your labor, try to steal your soul -
Bite the bullet, hold your tongue and play the happy prole.

Paranoid and tired - quit before you're fired.
But they've got you in the hole, so you play happy prole.

You need the money so you got to play it dumb,
but if you play it long enough it's just what you become.

Pay your rent, pay your bills, pay the doctor for your pills
So you can work another day, as life slips away."


Devo said...

Oops! My bad... stupid sausage fingers poking the wrong (side of the) key(board).

As for the lyrics/poem... it's quite nice. Frustratingly so. In this day and age, "Enlightenment" -- no matter what your definition or understanding of it may be -- is one of the most difficult states of Being. Bar none.

I must know where you got that there series of lines!

Mikhail Capone said...

These security measures are always effective against regular people who have nothing to hide.. But since that security can be seen from a mile away, if you actually have something to hide you'll just avoid it.

The net result is only a police state for regular people, and one more thing to be careful about for people who already were careful not to get caught.

Never was very effective, at least in the pre-fascist state.

Hungry Hyaena said...

"The Happy Prole" is a song by Quasi, one of the Seattle odd-ball duos. I like a lot of their stuff, though most people I know find it difficult to digest...too indie/experimental or something.

Alex Trabek said...

I read something, or was told something, or simply absorbed something, about the travesty that is the DDT ban. Apparently, whatever replacements we've been using are far more dangerous than DDT ever was to humans and birds alike. I don't know that this is relevant, but since I'm popping my HH cherry today, I thought I'd share the info of questionable pedigree.
I'd also like to state that I am stealing 'Jewbacca' as my new fantasty sports handle. Thank you very much.

Hungry Hyaena said...

This is long after the fact, but I just came across this comment by Trabek. The DDT info you read is likely nonsense, though I'd like the learn more about the source. Also, they may have been comparing DDT to malathion, in which case the arguments are legitimate. I've been an advocate of a malathion ban for years now. Malathion, though, is not a replacement promoted by anyone who wanted DDT banned. Rather it was the next chemical the companies could put on the market.

There are a lot of DDT-related rumors circulating these days, but the most valid points have to do with ethics. In Africa, it is now a question of letting more people die of malaria or spraying DDT to reduce the mosquito population. Proponents of DDT use argue the morally superior position here...if you onlty take the short-term into account. A balance must be achieved and spraying for insects doesn't cut it given the terrible costs down the road. On our shores, there are "natural" solutions; build bat houses and install purple martin nesting roosts, for example.

Lastly, excepting the epidemic areas, I think people just need to learn to live with viral/bacterial infections. Have we become such sheltered weaklings so fast?